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Interview with a Banterer
2003-11-15 20:54
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Rich Lederer of Rich's Weekend Baseball BEAT has a series of interviews going with online baseball writers, and his latest, with Alex Belth of Bronx Banter, is terrific. Here's an excerpt that'll make you jealous, in which Alex talks about his first job in the film industry, working as an intern for Ken Burns' documentary, Baseball.

RWBB: Which celebrity encounter had the most impact on you?

Alex: Without a doubt, Buck O'Neil. He came into town for a screening in the spring of '94, and it was my job to pick him up at his hotel and escort him around the city for the afternoon. I was already familiar with how special he was from what I had seen of him in the movie, and he was even more charismatic in person. You know that saying about how a person can light up a room? I've run into a lot of actors and celebrities, but Buck O'Neil was the first person I ever met that I could say that about.

I picked him up at his hotel on Park Avenue. He was wearing a suit and looked elegant. It was a sunny afternoon, and he was easy to be around, naturally charming. We hailed a cab and headed over to the Jackie Robinson Foundation to meet with Rachel Robinson. What I remember most about that cab ride were Buck's hands. They were enormous. Like mitts. They looked like Rodin sculptures, I kid you not. I could barely take my eyes off of them.

Do take the time to check out the entire interview, which also eloquently connects Alex's relationship with baseball to his relationship with his father. Turns Field of Dreams a bit on its ear.

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